4 March 2020
In Season 3, Westworld’s Dolores is fully sentient and deadlier than ever
Nothing is as it seems in sci-fi series Westworld (stream seasons 1 and 2 on Showmax; Season 3 arrives on 16 March 2020). For starters, it’s not a drama in the Wild West – the entire “world” is one giant theme park where rich folk get to dress up as cowboys, outlaws, lawmen and ladies, and live out their fantasies… most of which are as debauched as you can imagine.
Character analysis: Dolores (host)
When you first arrive in Westworld, you’re greeted by the perfect rancher’s daughter, the beautiful Dolores Abernathy. A host who prefers to see the beauty in the world, Dolores spends her days around the family ranch, dreaming of a bright future. But Dolores, played by Evan Rachel Wood, is about to discover that the false world she lives in isn’t that beautiful at all.
Host with the most
As a host, Dolores has been programmed to make guests feel at home in the Wild West. She wakes up every morning, greets her father and heads into town for her daily groceries. There she will meet whoever is new in the park with a smile as they pick up the can of food that drops from her hand. She’s basically the friendly smile and welcoming cheerleader. But you know what happens with machinery when there’s a bug in the system – it grinds to a halt. And that’s what happens to Dolores.
To Evan, her character’s position in Westworld is far more significant than being the welcome wagon. “On the surface and in character [Dolores] is a very pure, innocent prairie girl and is sort of a Disney princess. But if you really think about what that means, if she’s the oldest host in the park, she quite possibly could be the most advanced [host] and have the most history. We don’t know what’s happened to her in those 30 years. What different lives she’s led, how many people she’s fallen in love with, that she can even remember. Her memory is wiped every day.”
That’s right – she’s been saying howdy for 30 years. But that stops in episode 1 when she meets The Man In Black (Ed Harris). New updates to the hosts’ systems, seemingly by the creator Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins), see the characters malfunctioning. Dolores’s rancher dad Peter (Louis Herthum) is the first and it doesn’t help that he finds a photograph dropped by one of the park guests. While Dolores says it doesn’t look like anything to her, in the back of her cyborg’s brain, the cogs are turning.
“There’s this new thing brewing which is just her — a combination of everything together.”Evan Rachel Wood
Fact or fiction
While in Dolores’s mind she’s unsure what’s going on, Evan is a lot more pragmatic with the way that her character is behaving, asking questions, as well as the show’s concept, saying that “The more I dove into the research the more I realised that everything that we’re exploring on the show – it’s not science fiction, it’s science now. The things that Michael Crichton wrote about years ago [there was a sci-fi Westworld movie in 1973] are actually becoming real. It made me look at humanity in the way that the hosts would, in this very objective way. And it made me scared. It seems that humans are a bit broken and so flawed, and so limited.”
As the season goes on, Dolores becomes more acutely aware that it’s not as she believes. The more she interacts with her creator Ford and his second-in-command Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), the more she questions what is going on. She is also in the “fortunate” position where her cyborg brain has backdoors built into it, so both Ford and Bernard can tweak and change her characteristics. That’s important because the more complex hosts are the ones that are falling apart while Dolores, a far older, simpler model, is sturdier.
Knowledge = rage
When we get to Season 2, Dolores is a whole other kettle of fish. Now more aware of her position in the world, she has swapped her simple dress and boots for something a little more mission friendly – she’s torn off her sleeves, her boots don’t have a heel and she’s packing heat in the form of guns.
She means business and no one is going to stop her, largely thanks to Bernard and Ford’s helping hands. They’ve made her far more intelligent than the other hosts (except Maeve, played incredibly by Thandie Newton). “Dolores is certainly awake. She has access to all of her memories now,” explains Evan. “So she has elements of Dolores and Wyatt, and there’s this new thing brewing which is just her — a combination of everything together.”
Originally Wyatt was the Union sergeant we met at the start of Season 1 talking about the ambush at Escalante. That’s why Dolores is so at home on a horse, plotting like a soldier and using guns – she has memories from her “other” host mind: Wyatt’s.
Season 2 feels different from the “new” Dolores because she has changed so much. She understands who and what she is and she’s not willing to take that anymore. It’s time for war and Dolores is leading from the front.
So whatever you think you know about the sweet girl-next-door Dolores, you know nothing. She may not even be a she by the time Season 3 starts…
Watch the full trailer for Westworld S3: the first episode lands on 16 March
Binge-watch Seasons 1 & 2 of Westworld on Showmax before Season 3 arrives on 16 March, with episodes coming express from the US.